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HECS hikes loom

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Senator Natasha Stott Despoja Australian Democrats Senator for South Australia


HECS HIKES LOOM The Coalition Government indicated today that it is set to dump its "no tax rise" pledge.

In response to a question from the Australian Democrats' Higher Education Spokesperson, Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, the Minister for Employment, Education and Training, Senator Amanda Vanstone, refused to rule out increases to the tertiary tax, HECS.

"Despite assumptions by Senator Vanstone when she was in opposition that HECS is a tax, she has now declined to discuss whether or not HECS is a tax and whether or not HECS will be subject to increases.

"This is despite a clear pledge yesterday by the Assistant Treasurer, Senator Jim Short,, that no new taxes would be introduced.

"HECS is a tax and an election promise is an election promise.

"The 'no more taxes' government has not even made it through the first two months yet they are throwing this election promise out the window.

"The fact that members of the Coalition believe HECS is a tax is on record. It is in Hansard. Yet the Minister had to be reminded of her comments in the Senate on October 24, 1995 when she referred to HECS as a tax. She said:

"During the last election, your government deliberately and deceptively hid its true taxation policies from the Australians by consistently promising not to raise taxes. After the election, however, you introduced new taxes on building materials, you raised the Medicare levy, you raised the HECS contribution.... "

"If it was 'deliberately deceptive' to assert that an increase to HECS is not a taxation increase when Minister Vanstone was in Opposition surely it is 'deliberately deceptive' now?

"Not only did the Coalition give students and their families the impression there would be no changes to HECS, they also promised no tax increases. However, now they are in government they are treating students as a milking cow.

"The Australian Democrats demand that the Coalition do not move the goal posts on students. . Even though many students know from bitter experience that a government promise is worthless once the election is over," concluded Senator Stott Despoja. .

For more information: Tammy Franks 06 277 3645, or Senator Stott Despoja 014 952 162 COMMONWEALTH



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